EAST 4TH STREET, first known as Sheriff Street originally ran from EUCLID AVENUE down to Eagle Avenue and has been central to the local economy of Cleveland for over 150 years.
The southern end of the street was home to CENTRAL MARKET located near the intersection of Ontario, Woodland, and Broadway. It opened in 1867 and had up to 200 tenants at one point but the facilities and infrastructure were low quality and the market was closed by 1890. Sheriff St. Market succeeded Central Market in 1891 and was the largest market in Cleveland for two decades. After a fire in 1930, most of the market was torn down and the remains of the building were used as storage. During the time of the original Central Market and Sheriff St. Market many of the patrons lived within walking distance of the area. A new Central Market moved into what remained of the former Sheriff St. Market building and opened in 1950. However, the market had financial problems for most of its existence as many Clevelanders started to move to the suburbs. It closed as a marketplace by the late 1980s. The location is currently home to ROCKET MORTGAGE FIELDHOUSE. Its construction essentially shortened East 4th.
The street first became an area of cultural significance with the introduction of the EUCLID AVENUE OPERA HOUSE in 1875. The street had several costume shops that performers would frequent. In addition to these shops, there were restaurants and bars that would serve both the patrons attending shows as well as the performers, usually after the curtain had come down. OTTO MOSER’S, located at 2044 E. 4th St. was the most well-known of these establishments. Theatergoers and performers alike would eat and drink there and the restaurant became known for having over a thousand autographed photos of actors hanging on the walls. The Euclid Avenue Opera House burned down and the venue that succeeded it, The HANNA THEATER, was built in what became known as PLAYHOUSE SQUARE, several blocks east of East 4th.
After the street shifted away from the theatrical and operatic scene, it became a retail spot with several additional bars and restaurants. The White Elephant was an early 20th century bar located in the tallest building on the street at the time and it was known for the carved image of an elephant on it. East 4th was also home in the early to mid-20th Century to several five and dime stores having entrances or side entrances to Woolworth’s, McCrory’s and Kresge’s. Several furniture companies and provision stores also called East 4th home during this time.
By the 1990s and early 2000s East 4th had declined and there were many vacancies in the area that was once a bustling theatrical and retail district. The completion of the Gateway Economic Development plan in 1994, served to spur the revitalization of East 4th. Jacobs Field (later renamed PROGRESSIVE FIELD) became home to the Cleveland Indians and the Gund Arena (currently the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse) served to bring large crowds into the surrounding retail areas including those along East 4th.
Concurrent with the development, Bob Zimmer began displaying NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL artifacts in his family’s jewelry store on East 4th Street in 1997. What was to be a one-time exhibit became so popular with baseball fans that in a short time the exhibition became its own museum. After the renovation of LEAGUE PARK in 2014, the exhibit moved there and became part of the Baseball Heritage Museum.
In 2002 Nick Kostis opened Pickwick and Frolic Restaurant and Comedy Club. Kostsis recognized the potential of East 4th to be turned into an entertainment and dining hot spot. In 2005, award winning chef Michael Symon relocated his flagship restaurant LOLA BISTRO from Tremont to East 4th. Lola became one of Cleveland’s most famous restaurants before its closing during the COVID Pandemic in 2020. Since the early 2000s many other notable restaurants have opened there. The area of East 4th between Prospect and Euclid has become a pedestrian-only street during the 21st century revitalization. Symon’s Mabel’s BBQ, Butcher and the Brewer, and Saigon Restaurant and Bar are popular restaurants located on East 4th today (2021). The popular concert venue House of Blues on Euclid Avenue is also in close proximity to the street, drawing concert-goers to East 4th businesses.